There is a small building somewhere close to Santa's workshop where industrious techies work night and day churning out acronyms to meet the growing worldwide demand.

But it seems the gnome-like creatures are finding it increasingly difficult to come up with nice roll-off-your-tongue three letter acronyms and have resorted to sticking the letter "e" in front of everything. Recently they added spice to the story by leaving "commerce" as the suffix and changing the "e" to another letter depending on the program.

For example e-commerce now becomes c-commerce. This innovation was devised by the acronym gnomes in conjunction with the team at analyst Gartner.

While all this name calling is a bit of a laugh, the fact is that c-commerce, or collaborative commerce, represents a vital part of Australia's future in the world of Internet-based business.c-commerce is the next step beyond business-to-business (B2B). It represents a business strategy which has perfect applications in a country like Australia where we have many small companies developing leading-edge applications, products and services. These companies are benefiting on a global basis by sharing knowledge and services and working together to create new products and services. In fact, they are collaborating to create a better end result.

So it comes as no surprise that local companies are taking the lead in this new form of commerce and claiming it as our own.

Gartner's explanation of c-commerce is that it "achieves dynamic collaboration among employees, business partners and customers throughout a trading community".

The description goes on to state that c-commerce goes a step further than previous e-business models in that it enables "multiple enterprises to work interactively online to find ways to save money, make money and solve business problems - often by dynamically restructuring their relationships".

There are two major developments which are driving the growth of c-commerce.

Firstly, the ever-increasing range of organisations pursuing the Internet economy through the development of custom strategies and applications, and secondly, the realisation that by competing as a total value chain, a greater level of competitive advantage can be achieved over competing as individual companies.

Another interesting piece of research relates to customer loyalty and brand awareness on the Web.

It seems that despite the huge sums of money being poured into developing brand equity for new names, many customers are not being convinced and prefer the use of established brand names on the Web.

The research shows that while awareness of a brand may be high, consumer trust is lagging far behind. Just because people recognise a brand does not mean that they will use it. Advertising alone does not create a brand.

That of course begs the question as to why many large corporations are ignoring the investment they have already made in their brands and are trying to create entirely new online brands.

Three ways to promote online brands as suggested by some recent UK research are as follows:1. Create an entirely new brand on the Internet. That makes little sense unless a company is trying to escape negative equity and/or past corporate mishaps.

2. Use the name of a well-known and trusted parent company for your online business.

3. Create a new name for the online site and have it connected with the parent company. That at best requires some continuity of trust.

Tony Blackie is Chairman of Blackie McDonald and Guava Interactive. He can be reached at

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